Skip to content

The Bethnal Green Mulberry Is Saved Again!

September 3, 2021
by the gentle author

While the Gentle Author takes a holiday, we are celebrating the joys of the season with a HARVEST SALE, selling all our books at half price so you can treat yourself and your friends and family. Simply add code ‘HARVEST’ at checkout to claim your discount.





After our joyous victory in the High Court in May when we saved the Bethnal Green Mulberry, I was dismayed when developer Crest Nicholson applied to appeal the decision. Consequently, it was a great relief to get the news this week that their application has been denied by Her Majesty’s Court of Appeal and the Lord Justice of Appeal has confirmed that the matter is now concluded.

The Bethnal Green Mulberry is now safe for generations to come. We saved it twice!

If the appeal had been granted, we would have fought it but we would much rather not fight the same battle twice. You can read the complete statement below from the Lord Justice of Appeal and I was particularly delighted by these paragraphs:

6. In my view the judgement was right. A proper reading of 175c of NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) demonstrates that the concepts of “wholly exceptional circumstances” and a “suitable compensation strategy” are separate. That is the only proper reading of the words “unless there are wholly exception reasons and a suitable compensation strategy exists.” That result gives the only available meaning to the word “and.” It is something additional. It does not say ”including” or “in particular.”

7. Further and in any event, that reading is entirely consistent with the underlying purpose of this part of the NPPF. That makes it clear that because veteran trees are irreplaceable, the priority is that they are not lost.  It would undermine that policy entirely if developers thought they could get round it by simply paying compensation to cut down veteran trees. If a suitable compensation strategy was always part of the “wholly exceptional reasons,” then veteran trees could always be lost provided that developers could afford to pay compensation.

8. Furthermore, despite what the appellant/IP says, it is not irrelevant that this interpretation of paragraph 175c is supported both by NPPG and Natural England. I also note that the Judge’s view is supported unequivocally by the Secretary of State.

We are grateful to everyone who supported our campaign, especially our patron Dame Judi Dench, those who signed the petition and those who contributed to our legal fund. I am very much looking forward to distributing the cuttings of Shakespeare Mulberry to our donors this autumn.

We all owe a debt of gratitude to our superlative legal team, Richard Harwood QC, Andrew Parkinson and Susan Ring.

In 2040, the Bethnal Green Mulberry will reach its five hundredth birthday and I hope as many of my readers who can make it will be there will join me in raising a glass in Bethnal Green and celebrate this glorious occasion.


Nurses dancing around the Bethnal Green Mulberry

Click here to read my feature in The Evening Standard about the scandal of the Bethnal Green Mulberry

Click here to read my feature in The Daily Telegraph about the scandal of the Bethnal Green Mulberry

Read more here about the Bethnal Green Mulberry

The Bethnal Green Mulberry Verdict

The Fate of the Bethnal Green Mulberry

The Bethnal Green Mulberry

A Letter to Crest Nicholson

A Reply From Crest Nicholson

The Reckoning With Crest Nicholson

A Brief History of London Mulberries

24 Responses leave one →
  1. Lynn MacKay permalink
    September 3, 2021

    Brillant! Thank you for all your hard campaigning.

  2. September 3, 2021

    CONGRATULATIONS … long live the most expensive tree in England. Put up a very large sign explaining its historical significance so people appreciate it appropriately. Maybe a life size statue of the Bishop sitting underneath it would make the point?

  3. Christine Saunders permalink
    September 3, 2021

    Well done to all concerned – Here’s hoping to be there for 2040

  4. Annie Green permalink
    September 3, 2021

    Good. All this spite towards one tree. It is pitiful and pitiless at the same time.

  5. Janet Ellis permalink
    September 3, 2021

    Many, many thanks for the time and effort that you’ve put into saving this historic tree!

  6. Jill Wilson permalink
    September 3, 2021

    Brilliant news!!

    And great that the developers can’t do what they like providing they give some sort of financial compensation in return. Money isn’t everything, nature is much more important!

    I also hope that this ruling will help protect lots of other vulnerable and much loved veteran trees in the future.

    Well done for all you have done to make this campaign successful, and see you in 2040!

  7. Wendy permalink
    September 3, 2021

    Oh now that is wonderful news! The right outcome. ✅ ??.

  8. Ann V permalink
    September 3, 2021

    Brilliant news! Well done GA, Dame Judi Dench and everybody who campaigned successfully. Greedy developers cannot keep getting away with ruining our heritage and history whether it is a tree, old building or green space.

  9. September 3, 2021

    Wonderful news! Many thanks to all involved.

  10. Paola Moore permalink
    September 3, 2021

    What lovely news…but we had a protected mulberry in our village and the developers must have dmamaged the root system somehow and a few years later the tree started suffering and has now died. Meanwhile they have come and gone and the irreparable damage has been insidiously done. We still need to be vigilant of the tree but well done to all involved. Your determination and spirit is truly an inspiration.

  11. Amanda permalink
    September 3, 2021

    Hearty congratulations GA  on your own superlative organisational skills along with the meticulous legal team, synchronising the support.

    I agree with the suggestions to have visual commemorations which leave the onlooker under no illusion as to this rare tree’s historical longevity and recent exalted salvation.   

    Not least, as with anything highlighted by publicity, very vigilant protection from every angle is essential.
    CCTV being the minimum precaution.

    Well done everyone involved for gaining such a definitive seal of protection.

  12. Linda Granfield permalink
    September 3, 2021

    Fantastic news!

    Many thanks to all who supported this incredible campaign. This news is well worth ‘breaking’ your holiday time to announce, G.A. (Now, back to your bit of relaxation, please.)

    Absolutely wonderful news!

  13. Peter Smith permalink
    September 3, 2021


  14. Jill Altman permalink
    September 3, 2021

    Well done! I’ve followed this story for some time and am immensely relieved y’all have succeeded.

  15. Barbara Hague permalink
    September 3, 2021

    A very good result!

  16. Peter permalink
    September 3, 2021


  17. Mary permalink
    September 3, 2021

    Such wonderful news! Congratulations to you G.A., the legal team and all the supporters.

    I am not familiar with the intricacies of our English law, but I am sincerely hoping that this ruling sets a precedent for all the thousands of other wonderful veteran trees across England that are under threat from greedy, grasping developers.

  18. Lizebeth permalink
    September 3, 2021

    Hooray! We need more forward thinking from those in power on these issues, as we need to preserve the past in whatever form it takes, so that future generations can benefit from it.

  19. Carolyn Cartwright permalink
    September 3, 2021

    Delighted with this news. An important judgement for future similar cases.

  20. Robin permalink
    September 3, 2021

    Woo hoooo!! Thank you for leading the charge, GA

  21. September 3, 2021

    Thank you Judge Coulson for an eminently sane and sensible ruling. 400+ year old trees cannot be “compensated for”.

  22. J Wood permalink
    September 4, 2021

    I’m truly delighted to hear this very good news. It has for me restored a little bit of faith in the judicial system that has made this ruling. The planning system has so much wrong with it, it’s become hard to believe that anyone can ever win anything against powerful developers, so this feels a monumental result to me with regards to truth, integrity and respect, for communities, for nature and for what’s obviously right. Congratulations to all those who spoke up for the tree, and for the community. You did it.

  23. September 5, 2021

    Good news, and well done.

  24. September 7, 2021

    This is great news.

Leave a Reply

Note: Comments may be edited. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS